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From left, seated, Hanford Site Manager Brian Vance, Ty Blackford, president of CH2M HILL Plateau Remediation Company, John Eschenberg, president and CEO of Washington River Protection Solutions.
From left, seated, Hanford Site Manager Brian Vance, Ty Blackford, president of CH2M HILL Plateau Remediation Company, John Eschenberg, president and CEO of Washington River Protection Solutions.

PHOENIXHanford Site Manager Brian Vance and leaders of the site’s major cleanup contractors expressed pride in recent accomplishments and optimism about progress toward liquid waste treatment during a panel discussion at the Waste Management Symposia.

“We’ve had a phenomenal last 30 years of cleanup, particularly on Hanford’s River Corridor,” Vance said. “And now the focus transitions to Hanford’s Central Plateau.”

Washington River Protection Solutions President and CEO John Eschenberg, whose company manages the mission of retrieving 56 million gallons of waste stored in underground tanks, described a shift in the culture at Hanford as workers advance toward treating the waste. Construction on facilities supporting Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste (DFLAW) treatment is expected to be completed this year, a key step toward commissioning and operations.

“There is excitement in the air at Hanford because we’ve been working toward this end for decades,” Eschenberg said.

He added that Hanford’s senior leaders have come together as a team to get ready to make glass out of the tank waste.

“We are a team now. We can feel it. We are a fully integrated enterprise,” Eschenberg said. “Now I talk about making glass as much as emptying tanks.”

Valerie McCain, principal vice president of Bechtel National, Inc., and project director for the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP) Project at Bechtel, agreed. She described efforts in WTP construction, commissioning progress, and development of the future workforce,

“It’s an exciting time on the project and in this mission. It feels different,” McCain said. “It’s a privilege to be part of this team. People are definitely coming together to get the job done.”

Bob Wilkinson, president of services contractor Mission Support Alliance (MSA), said his company celebrates the site’s successes as part of the team.

“Their success is our success and Hanford’s success. We celebrate with them, because we’re in there together,” Wilkinson said. “We enable, we create, and we ensure they have reliability of essential services required to meet such significant milestones. The entire workforce across the site is pulling toward the goal of treating the waste.”

Ty Blackford, president and CEO of cleanup contractor CH2M HILL Plateau Remediation Company, recounted two recent major completions at Hanford among his company’s work — transferring sludge out of the K West reactor basin and completing cleanout and wrapping up demolition of the Plutonium Finishing Plant (PFP).

“PFP was one of the highest hazard buildings at Hanford and arguably in the complex,” he said. “It’s gone; it’s not there anymore.”

Vance said there is a sense of optimism about Hanford cleanup.

“It’s really about all of us working together, so we come together at that critical point when we’re all ready to start making glass,” he said. “We’ve shown our ability to progress cleanup in the past and we will continue to do so in the future.”

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